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and again, we know that while the Carthaginians and the Lacedaemonians, who are the best governed peoples of the world,Socrates and his followers idealized, in contrast to the slackness of Athens, the rigorous rule of such states as Sparta and Crete. See, for example, Plat. Crito 52e. Aristotle couples in his praise, as Isocrates here, the Spartans and the Carthaginians: Aristot. Pol. 1272b 24 ff. are ruled by oligarchies at home, yet, when they take the field, they are ruled by kings. One might also point out that the stateAthens. which more than any other abhors absolute rule meets with disaster when it sends out many generals,As in the disasters at Syracuse and Aegospotami. and with success when it wages war under a single leader.
And that this state of affairs was due to the valor of our ancestors has been clearly shown in the fortunes of our city: for the very moment when we were deprived of our dominion marked the beginning of a dominionFor this play of words— a)rxh/, “beginning,” and arxh/, “dominion”—cf. Isoc. 3.28, Isoc. 8.101, Isoc. 5.61. of ills for the Hellenes. In fact, after the disaster which befell us in the Hellespont,Battle of Aegospotami 405 B.C. when our rivals took our place as leaders, the barbarians won a naval victory,At the battle of Cnidus, but with the help of Conon. became rulers of the sea, occupied most of the islands,See Xen. Hell. 4.8.7. made a landing in Laconia, took Cythera by storm, and sailed around the whole Peloponnesus, inflicting damage as
Again, in the Rhodian War,The war between Persia and Sparta which ended with the battle of Cnidus, 394 B.C. Conon, after the battle of Aegospotami in which he had been one of the generals, took service with the Persians, and was the captain of the fleet in this battle. the King had the good will of the allies of Lacedaemon because of the harshness with which they were governed, he availed himself of the help of our seamen; and at the head of his forces was Conon, who was the most competent of our generals, who possessed more than any other the confidence of the Hellenes, and who was the most experienced in the hazards of war; yet, although the King had such a champion to help him in the war, he suffered the fleet which bore the brunt of the defense of Asia to be bottled up for three years by only an hundred ships, and for fifteen months he deprived the soldiers of their pay; and the result would have been, had it depended upon the King alone, that they would have been disbanded mo
The Lacedaemonians were the leaders of the Hellenes,The hegemony of Sparta lasted from the battle of Aegospotami, 405 B.C., to the battle of Leuctra, 371 B.C. not long ago, on both land and sea, and yet they suffered so great a reversal of fortune when they met defeat at Leuctra that they were deprived of their power over the Hellenes, and lost such of their warriors as chose to die rather than survive defeat at the hands of those over whom they had once been masters.
Now if one should attempt to speak in detail of the events of that time, he would find it impossible to recount them all exactly, and for the present occasion the recital would perhaps prove wearisome. But so great was the confusion into which he plunged not only Athens but Lacedaemon and all the rest of Hellas as well, that we, the Athenians, suffered what all the world knows;The defeat at Aegospotami, and after that the rule of the “thirty tyrants,” and later the “decar
The career of Conon,See Isoc. 4.142 ff. not many years later, is a counterpart to that of Alcibiades. After his defeat in the naval engagement in the Hellespont,The battle of Aegospotami. for which not he but his fellow commanders were responsible, he was too chagrined to return home; instead he sailed to Cyprus, where he spent some time attending to his private interests.See Isoc. 9.52 ff. But learning that Agesilaus had crossed over into Asia with a large forceSee 86, 87, and Isoc. Letter 9.13-14. and was ravaging the country, he was so dauntless of spirit
that, although he possessed no resource whatever save his body and his wits, he was yet confident that he could conquer the Lacedaemonians, albeit they were the first power in Hellas on both land and sea; and, sending word to the generals of the Persian king, he promised that he would do this. What need is there to tell more of the story? For he collected a naval force off Rhodes, won a victory over the Lacedaemonians in a sea-fight,Battle of Cnidus, 394 B.C. There is a dramatic significance in the fact that Conon fought in the battle of Aegospotami which gave Sparta the supremacy and in the battle of Cnidus which took it from her. deposed them from their sovereignty, and set the Hellenes free.From Spartan rule.
And not only did he rebuild the walls of his country,He restored the walls which had been torn down as one of the terms imposed upon Athens after the battle of Aegospotami. Xen. Hell. 4.8.9 ff. but he restored Athens to the same high repute from which she had fallen. And yet who could have expected that a man whose own fortunes had fallen so low would completely reverse the fortunes of Hellas, degrading some of the Hellenic states from places of honor and raising others into prominence?
It is well for me to speak to you also about the two Kings, the one against whom I am advising you to take the field, and the one against whom Clearchus made war, in order that you may know the temper and the power of each. In the first place, the fatherArtaxerxes II., 405-359 B.C. of the present King once defeated our cityThis is inexact. He is probably thinking of the defeat of the Athenians in the Peloponnnesian War in which Sparta had the assistance of Persia; but Artaxerxes II. came to the throne in the year of the battle of Aegospotami. and later the city of the Lacedaemonians,At the battle of Cnidus with the help of Conon, 394 B.C. while this KingArtaxerxes III., 359-339 B.C. has never overcome anyone of the armies which have been violating his territory.